Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm in the Club!

I have been accepted as a Daring Baker! Not that it is that hard, you just email and beg and cry ask to be a part of the group. We get a baking challenge each month and then everyone posts their results on the same day. I am excited to have a way to push myself to try new things. Usually I run the opposite direction when I see a recipe say something like "let rise for one hour" or "take out your candy thermometer." It's not that I can't do it. I just don't. So I'm very happy to have this chance once a month to better develop my cooking skills.

Interested? Here's their blogroll so you can check it out. Happy baking everybody!

Whoo-hoo! and Queen Mary

I did it! I completed NaBloPoMo and posted for 30 days straight! Now admittedly, not all of my posts were noteworthy. I occasionally put up videos or pictures of puppies to disguise the fact that I had nothing of any value to say. I'm really glad I did this so early in my blogging experience so I could get it out of my system. Now I feel like I'm in the habit of writing consistently, but I won't feel pressured to post if don't have any thing I really want to share.

Now on to food! My favorite topic!

On Friday, most of the girls/women in my family went to tea at the Queen Mary Tea Room in Seattle. My mom didn't come because she was recuperating from putting on Thanksgiving ALL BY HERSELF. See what you get when you don't let me help? Anyway, after getting a late start, being stuck behind the First Avenue Bridge when it went up, and taking many wrong turns, we finally arrived. The shop is small and cozy, but a little over decorated for my taste. You could tell they've been in one location for a while. You know how when you live somewhere for a long time you just keep accumulating Stuff and you don't always have a place for all the Stuff? That's what it reminded me of. But in a cute, Victorian way. I'm not a big fan of knick knacks, so maybe it's just me.

The very first thing I saw when we sat down was this:

You probably can't tell, but this bowl was HUGE! I knew I was in good hands. There is no way, even with my raging sugar addiction, that we could possibly use all that sugar in one sitting. Yay! I thought the red and green sugar was a super cute idea as well.

After we got our menus, they brought by some little tea sample cups. They have their own tea line, so they gave out some of their seasonal flavors for us to try.

They were good, but neither really spoke to me (seeing as I only drink Vanilla) but I think everyone else liked them. The flavors were like Holiday Spice or Gingerbread or something like that? Hey Monica, if you remember could you post the flavors in comments? I don't remember their real names.

The table was very cute. Each person had their own cup, each one in a different style. My favorite was my sister-in-law, Angela's. I think she thought it was too plain, but I liked the simplicity of it.

We all ordered Afternoon Tea, and the kids got the Children's Tea. We each got our own pot of tea. Again, these pots were HUGE. Most places I've been give you a 2-3 cup pot. The advantage is that you can usually try lots of different flavors with each pot. The disadvantage is that you have to wait for someone to refill it when you run out.

With this big thing, I could have served the whole table. They included an infuser (which is why the top is caddy-whompus) and if you can see in the reflection, there was a little tea holder to put the infuser on when your tea was ready. Since I am the Vanilla queen, this was great for me. I don't usually switch flavors, and I didn't have to wait for refills. This was the first time ever that I had tea left in the pot when I was done eating.

My nieces each got a little 2 cup pot of tea, which was just right for them as they only drink about half a pot anyway. I LOVED this pot. I actually looked for it at the tea shop afterwards but couldn't find it. Something about the flowers and the colors really called my name. Not that I need another tea pot, but I still want it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for realistic looking flowers.

We started with a sorbet trio and a fabulous shortbread cookie. Sorry no pic, I was hungry! I think the sorbet flavors were pear, mango and passionfruit. The pear was my favorite. It was a nice touch, but it was odd for me to start out with something so cold. I would have liked it more in-between courses. Again, probably just me being picky. As long as I'm being critical, can I also mention that the Queen Mary does not offer half and half with their tea? They had milk which they said was Whole Milk (we weren't buying it) and offered up whipping cream when we asked about the half and half. I thought that was a little odd. When I'm out to spoil myself with tea, I want me some fat! Okay, done complaining.

Next they brought everyone a plate. I thought this pattern was just gorgeous.

Since the plate I got wasn't in this pattern, I stole my sister's plate when she went to the bathroom. :-) No, I'm not kidding!

Out came our three-tiered service. Since there were four of us getting tea, they put two servings on the plates. The sandwiches were okay. There was a chicken salad that was too heavy on the mustard for my taste. The turkey with cranberry was good. My very favorite was the pear and blue cheese with walnut. The blue cheese was mixed with  cream cheese (I think) and the pear was super ripe and sliced very thinly. The walnuts were few and far between so they didn't overpower the flavor. I could have eaten a whole plate of them!

The top tier combined all three courses together (I would have preferred my desserts be separated...ew, my sausage roll is touching my cookie!) but I'm sure that once again this is me being picky. Wow, how obsessive-compulsive am I? I had no idea until I started writing this. Hey! Stop rolling your eyes, Monica! Anyway, the savories were a yummy sausage roll in puff pastry and a smoked salmon quiche...both very tasty. The breads were a currant scone and a crumpet. The desserts on top were a snickerdoodle and a thumbprint raspberry cookie.

The middle tier held the fruit and desserts. The fruit was very fresh and had lots of variety. They even included pomegranate seeds. The fruit bread was delicious. Monica let me have her piece, too. (I traded her for my cheesecake, which was peppermint flavored.) And the last thing was a cute little gingerbread bite with whipped cream. It was a very nice selection and mostly made my taste buds happy.

The children's tea gave them a choice of PB & J or toasted cheese. They also got the sorbet with us, and then fruit and desserts on top. I love the big crown cookie with the tea room's initials on it. I believe their desserts were some the same, and some different than ours to fit a kids palate. The girls seemed very happy with it.

Overall we had a really good time. The Queen Mary is a little on the pricy side, but I'm sure that's partially location, as I usually get my tea farther south. I would definitely go back. But next time I'm bringing my own half and half!

*picture of tea room from

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Impossible Pumpkin Pie

*Picture from

My mom started making this long ago because she is not a fan of making crust, something I also dislike doing. Plus, crust is one of my least favorite things to eat. Think about it. It's flour, butter and salt. Yuck! Where's the flavor? And I CAN"T STAND IT when the crust is all hard and dry and crumbly. Its only redeeming quality is the ability to soak up the juice of whatever is cooked in it so it gets soft and squishy and picks up some flavor, for Pete's sake.

Okay, I will get off my pie crust soap box. 

I tried to find a picture of the pie in this old cookbook of my Grandma's. It was printed in 1980.

*Picture from

However, it must have been an "old hat" recipe by the time this book came out because there's no picture and it's literally the very last recipe in the book. Regardless, it's a yummy, easy pie.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
2 Tbl. margarine or butter
1 (13 oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
2 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 350*. Lightly grease a 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Beat all ingredients until smooth, 1 minute in blender on high speed or 2 minutes with a hand beater. Pour into pie plate. Bake until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Refrigerate any remaining pie.

A few notes about this recipe:
1.  Some of the recipes I've seen say to soften or melt the butter. I would definitely do this next time. I used cold butter and had a hard time getting it to incorporate when I used my KitchenAid. (Should have used the blender. But I have a Kitchenaid!) Where there were pieces of butter is where the pie cracked.
2. For some reason, the recipe I copied from my mom says to cook at 325*. I probably changed this on my own somewhere down the line. It was a bad idea, as it took much longer than 55 minutes to cook. I need to change it back.
3. I could only find 12 oz. cans of evaporated milk and it worked fine. Do they still make 13 oz. cans?
4. I used a deep dish pie plate, which may be why it took longer to cook. But my pie looked much prettier than the picture above. I've got to try to take pictures, even when I'm full...I'm not sure how that is connected. Maybe I'm so full I don't want to even look at food? Nah...
5. This is really easy. Go make it. Then eat it with whipped cream. Preferably Cool Whip. The full fat kind. Yummy! Now go run 3 miles. Let me know when you've run off my calories, too.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

Thanksgiving this year was at my Mom's. This was not unusual. What was unusual is that both my sister's family and my brother's family came up from Portland. It is the first time in over a decade that all of my siblings have been together for this holiday. It was really wonderful to be able to spend this time with them.

Amazingly, with 15 people (10 adults, and 5 kids under age 8) there were no major melt downs. We hung out, played some games, entertained the kids and ate A LOT. My mother is of the I-want-to-do-it-myself variety. It makes her happy not to let anyone be involved  in the meal process. So although we each brought a side dish, she spent the whole time in the kitchen making a huge meal and shooing out anyone who tried to help.  This used to frustrate me, but now I just accept that this is what makes her happy, and I make sure throughout the day that she knows I am there if she should suddenly fall down a flight of stairs or develop a tumor ("It's not a tumor!") or in any way become incapacitated. I will take over the baster if called upon!

Anyway, the food was fabulous as usual. Here's a little glimpse into our holiday feast:

The table set for the big event. See the chair down at the very end on the right? The orange one? The one with the broken back that's been taped together and covered with a towel? That would be my seat. It's so good to be loved. Yeah...

Mmmm....turkey. We have a majority of dark meat fans (me included!) so that's what went first. My mom makes a great, moist, flavorful turkey. Must be all that basting.

On the left, my mom's famous stuffing (from an old Campbell's Soup cookbook) and on the right my sister-in-law's sweet potatoes with a brown sugar topping.

What is Thanksgiving in America without some type of funky salad? The green one is a lime Jell-o salad with cottage cheese, pineapple and walnuts. The yellow one is Ambrosia, with coconut, mandarin oranges and marshmallows maybe? I like the green one. My sister likes the yellow one, so she can probably tell me what's in it. When I write it out, they both sound pretty disgusting.  But Thanksgiving calls for weird family foods like this. Then we have two styles of canned cranberry sauce, plain and whole berry. My sister makes a killer warm cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries. I missed having it this year. Maybe next time.

We also had mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, broccoli, and homemade rolls, not to mention all the appetizers we had at lunch time "to tide us over" until dinner. For dessert there was apple-currant crumble, pumpkin pie and a cheesecake. I always forget to take pictures when I get full, so sorry, no dessert shots. I made the pumpkin pie. It's a Bisquick recipe my mom always made when we were kids. It's a crustless pie but really smooth and good. You mix all the ingredients in a blender, poor in a pan and bake. Couldn't be much easier. I'll post the recipe tomorrow after I find my Bisquick cookbook and look for a picture of the pie.

I was planning to add more pictures of our day, as well as highlighting my other two nephews. But I forgot to ask everyone if that was okay. So I'll hopefully have more family pics tomorrow. Plus, most of us female-type people went to a new tea room together this morning. See you soon for the official review.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pumpkin Town

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Gobble Gobble Gobble!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


So it was payday today (YAY!) Most teachers get paid once a month on the last working day of the month. Because of how Thanksgiving fell, we got our checks today. Hooray! So I decided to hit the mall, since starting on Friday it will be a nightmare. It gets SO crazy before Christmas. I've been having shoe issues, so I went to Payless for BOGO. (Buy One Get One half price.)

I needed some flats that were casual, but still dressy enough for work. Here are the black ones I chose.

I actually wore them around the mall because my other shoes were killing me. I like the sole because it's sturdy and comfy. Recognize the socks from an earlier post?

Here are the brown ones.

I'll be wearing these for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Okay, I am officially hitting the bottom of the barrel on posting. I CANNOT WAIT until NaBloPoMo is over. I thought it would be fun to post everyday, but sometimes I just have nothing worthwhile to share. Not that it matters, I guess, since this whole blog is about me sharing stuff no one else cares about. But shouldn't I at least care? Four more days...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A quick thought. I just watched the "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" Special. At the very end, Snoopy and Woodstock share a turkey dinner and Woodstock eats a big plate of turkey. Isn't this some form of cannibalism or something? He's got to be in some way related to the turkey, right? I'm just sayin'....

*Photo from


Okay, here's another weird and crazy video I found while surfing YouTube. Be forewarned, it's kind of gross in spots. And the last 30 seconds is kind of creepy. But it's funny! So that makes it all okay!

Monday, November 24, 2008

More puppies

I must be feeling lonely. I'm doing another post about pets. But I found this breed I'd never heard of before. Apparently someone mixed a Jack Russell terrier and a beagle. They're called Jackabees. I want one just so I can say, "I have a Jackabee." And then people could say, "You have a what-abee?" Ha ha ha ha ha! Wouldn't that be funny?

Okay, I admit I'm easily amused. But look, they're so cute!

*Both photos from

*I decided I should start crediting my pictures so the Copyright Police don't come for me. I started having nightmares.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Monica's Tea Party

The reason I went down to visit my sister and her family this weekend was because she was hosting a tea party. And I never turn down the opportunity to drink tea, eat yummy food and chat with great people.

Here's my new teacup getting broken in. I mostly drank the vanilla (big surprise!) but also had a cup of Earl Grey. Notice how much half and half I put in? Plus there are three sugars in there. I would have done four, but I was in mixed company. Yummmm!

Here is the menu, all pink and pretty. She worked really hard to get it just right. Check out the tiny tea spoon. (It has a teeny tiny little teapot on the end of it!)

We began with the savory course. She made three types of tea sandwiches. There was smoked turkey with cranberry-dijon sauce, ham on pumpernickel with chutney and Monica's and my favorite, apple and boursin cheese on walnut raisin bread. It made my mouth say "yahoo!" Figuratively. Not literally. It's rude to yell "yahoo" at a tea party.

We also had feta, mizithra and parmesan cheese bites. These were strongly flavored, but really good! I got to put the green onion slices on top. Don't they look nice?

We moved on to the bread course and had scones with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and raspberry jam. The scones turned out great. I like to put on the lemon curd with some cream. It tastes like a mini lemon meringue pie. Mmmmmmmm...

We finished up with the dessert course. She made Pecan Tassies (one of my faves!)....

...and also a wonderful chocolate croissant bread pudding, which I forgot to take a photo of. (I was too full by that point.)

All of the food was wonderful, and so was the conversation. My sister's friends are all very kind and fun to talk to. Just remember, what happens at the tea party stays at the tea party. Keep it in the vault! I can't wait until Monica hosts another party. Hopefully I'll still get invited, despite my ongoing sugar addiction.


I've put my niece Madison on the computer a couple of times now. It's only fair to do equal time for my other niece, Kenzie, and my nephew, Max. So here they are!

Max is your typical 3 year old boy. He loves to play, jump, run, yell and fall down. He doesn't seem to have any nerve endings yet and rarely cries when he hits his head or falls off the couch. He is getting really fun to play with. We had a moose fight today where we each put a moose slipper on our hands and the meeses were trying to eat our tummies.

Kenzie is 6 and a super sweetie. She takes after daddy in build and temperament. She's pretty quiet and gets along well with everyone. She is also quite an artist. I have to share a picture she made for me.

This is all the kids, plus me, having a picnic. There is also a lot of wildlife and someone feeding ducks (though they must be a contortionist!) It's kind of hard to see, sorry!

This is my favorite part. Since it's close to Thanksgiving, she drew some Pilgrim birds...

...and some Native American birds. So funny!

Love ya sweetie-pies!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


My pumpkin bread turned out! I brought it with me to my sister's house (where I am spending the weekend) so I wouldn't eat the whole thing by myself. The texture was really nice. More dense than most quick breads, but not too heavy. It was also sweeter than I expected, but not in an overpowering way. I would definitely make this again. My sister gave it two thumbs up, and my brother-in-law gave it four out of five stars. So you officially have my endorsement to make this pumpkin bread. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Back so soon? It was good, right? (If you actually make this let me know what you think.)

I drove down to Portland this afternoon. So much excitement at my sister's house today. I talked her into taking me to the Bare Minerals store at the mall by her house so I could replace some of my make up. I'm sure there must me a store somewhere near my house, but I'm too lazy to find out. So I just wait until I'm in Portland and make Monica take me. I'm so lame. Here's my artistic rendering of my purchases, and the salesperson swirling the brush. Notice the action shot? I think I'm going to quit my day job and become a photographer. Yeah.

Then we went and had dinner at a local brew pub. I chose not to take a picture of my hamburger so as not to embarrass my family. The pictures at the mall were pushing it as it was. We went back to the house, I played with my nieces and nephews, then they got ready for bed. I love helping out with bedtime...I get to pretend I'm a mom for a little while. I read stories and listened to my niece, Madison, sing me songs. We said prayers together and it was really sweet. She said a special prayer for our aunt who is sick. It was a nice moment.

She said she wanted to be on the blog, and her mom okayed it, so here are Madison's cute finger nails, all pink.

And here's Miss Madison. Love you, sweetie.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pumpkin Cheese Bread

It's been one of those days. So instead of a picture of beautiful pumpkin bread, you get an out of focus picture of lumpy batter.

This was the thickest quick bread batter I've ever seen. I'm sure that was due in part to the cream cheese. This recipe is from one of the first cook books I bought, right out of college. It's a tiny paperback "Philadelphia Cream Cheese" cookbook from Kraft. I think I got it as a set because I wanted the Jell-o cookbook that came with it. I can't remember ever using the Jell-o book, but if it's got cream cheese in it, sign me up! I use this book way more than I should. The Pecan Tassies rock my world.

Another blurry picture. Sigh. Here's the recipe:

2 1/2 cups sugar
1 8-oz. pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 eggs
1 16-oz can pumpkin
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup chopped nuts

Combine sugar, cream cheese and butter, mixing at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in pumpkin. Add combined dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Fold in nuts. Pour into two greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350* for 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pans.

A few things I'd like to say about this recipe:
1. As I'm sure you can tell, not a low fat recipe in any way. If you're looking for healthy, run away from my blog. Away with thee!
2. I. Love. My. KitchenAid! Thank you wonderful family for gifting me with it. It took about 30 seconds to cream the butter, sugar and cheese. So easy!
3. Why is there no degree symbol on my keyboard? You know the little circle thing in the air? I would use that way more than the dumb asterisk I had to use instead.
4. I actually greased and floured my pans. Aren't you proud? Usually that's the deal breaker. I see "grease and flour" and head for the hills. But I did it just for you all. Yes, all 3 of you.
5. Before I started I didn't realized it made 2 loaves. But if I halved it, what am I going to do with half a can of pumpkin? How would you even store that? Bread usually freezes well, so I guess I'll stick a loaf in the freezer until we have a power outage and I have to eat everything before it goes bad.

This is what I hope my pumpkin bread will look like when it's done. I'll post finished product pictures tomorrow. Good night!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Choppin' Broccoli

I was talking to my friend, Brenna, and she mentioned putting broccoli in something the other day. This immediately made me think of the SNL skit by Dana Carvey from many moons ago. Of course, I had to share.

I hope you like having this stuck in your head as much as I do.

Tomorrow I'll be posting my pumpkin bread recipe and pictures. See you then!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ANTM Limerick, Haiku

It's NaBloPoMo. So I'm posting short and sweet. Then sleep. Sweet sleep.

The winner tonight was McKey,
As the sisters both thought it would be.
Analeigh should have stayed;
Sam's demise was delayed,
Will next Spring be much better? We'll see.

McKey's giraffe neck
No substitute for a good

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Way...........WAY!

This is the Union 76 station near my house. Can you believe gas here is less than $2.00? I honestly thought I would NEVER see a 1 as the first number at a gas station ever again! I just wanted to commemorate this rare happening. Let's all take a moment of silence in appreciation of the fact that I filled my tank for $22.87 today...

Shh, we're being silent...

All right, as you were.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nonstop, No-Chop Chili

Okay, I know this picture looks kind of gross. But I always forget to take pictures when I'm cooking. I'm too busy making and eating and sharing with people to remember and then it's all gone or old looking. I'm going to be doing a bit of cooking this week as I signed up to be the food girl for our PTA meeting, our staff meeting, etc. I try to get all my urges to cook out of the way before the concert/holiday season starts. Anyway, we had our PTA meeting tonight so I made this easy chili from Cooking Light, some Pampered Chef Beer Bread (it was strange to bring a bottle of MGD to school) and some Magic Cookie Bars. All super easy stuff to throw together, but still seemed to make people pretty happy. I served the chili with some shredded cheese and sour cream. This little bit is all that was left. I was hoping for leftovers to eat this week. Oh, well.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to make your own easy and yummy chili.

3/4 pound ground round (or ground turkey)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup salsa (I use Pace Thick and Chunky...or maybe it's just called Chunky now)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1 16 oz. can chili beans, undrained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added

In a Dutch Oven, cook ground beef until browned. Drain. Add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

I almost never put in all the water they ask for. I usually do about half so it won't be too runny. I doubled this for our meeting and threw it all in a crock pot on high for a few hours. It turned out great. Really. Much better than it looks in the picture. I promise!

P. S. This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine.